Twin brothers Anthony and Stuart Facey have both become groundsmen after completing Apprenticeships at Writtle University College.
Stuart Facey has been Head Groundsperson at the award-winning New Hall School in Chelmsford since September 2016. He describes his Apprenticeship as the “perfect way to learn”.
Anthony Facey is Head Groundsman of Colchester United Football Club's Florence Park Training Ground in Tiptree and previously worked on the pitches for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Both brothers, who are from Witham, studied Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships at Writtle University College before progressing onto Level 3. While training at Writtle, they were runners up in the Institute of Groundsmanship's (IOG) prestigious Young Groundsman of the Year 2016.
As a groundsman at the independent day and boarding school New Hall, Stuart supports the maintenance of the 70-acre estate, which includes maintaining the pitches, advising staff of the best areas to use for sporting fixtures and considering the impact of the weather on the grounds. He determines if garden machinery needs replacing and advises on the best to buy, as well as implementing renovation plans for all the sporting surfaces.
The 26-year-old now manages a team of nine looking after New Hall's estate, seven of whom were trained at Writtle University College.
While at Writtle, Stuart worked at Twickenham during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final, Semi-Final, and Final, and was invited by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to the former Soviet state of Georgia to evaluate and provide helpful advice on their rugby surfaces.
He said: “I would recommend an Apprenticeship to anyone as it's the perfect way to learn and earn some money along the way. The employer pays your education fees and you get paid at the same time.
“In the independent school sector you are preparing pitches and working with the sportsmen of tomorrow. I'm proud to be able to deliver a surface which enables them to hone their skills for the professional sporting world.”
As Head Groundsman for Colchester United FC's training ground, Anthony's role includes liaising with coaches on a daily basis to inform them of the state of the pitches and advising them on the best areas to train on any given day. He also has to advise his line manager, the chairman and the director of football on the condition of the pitches.
He has another three people looking after the training ground with him, two of whom are former and current Writtle University College Apprentices.
While at Writtle, Anthony went to Paris with the IOG Youth Board to expand his knowledge by visiting Stade De France and Paris Saint Germain's stadium Parc Des Princes.
He said: “The reason I studied Horticulture was because I suppose, like most young kids, I wanted to play a sport professionally, in my case cricket. I started my career as a voluntary groundsman at Witham Cricket Club when I was 14 and progressed to organising all aspects of the groundwork there at the age of 16. I owe a lot to the retired groundsmen there who gave me the chance to get stuck in at that young age and started me off on this road. They also put me in touch with the County Ground.
“I came to Writtle because of its reputation. I have to credit the Lecturer Nigel Beckford - before I got on the course I had heard he had taught groundsmen at the top sporting venues in the south east like Arsenal, Spurs and Wimbledon, which was a massive draw for me to be included in that alumni.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my course, which was testing at times but I feel the support was above and beyond. I enjoyed the practical side of my course and it's pleasing to hear this has further increased since I left. Nigel manages to organise fantastic trips - the trip he organised to Spurs ended up with me working there!”
• For more information about studying an Apprenticeship at Writtle University College, please visit writtle.ac.uk/Apprenticeships